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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 24, 2011 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT

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jackpot author jason ryan leads you through charleston's part in the '80s drug wars, and throw together confederate veterans with former slaves, add one massive earth wake, and things can go -- earthquake and things can go from bad to worse. and on american history tv on c-span3, the latest on preservation of the first civil war-era submarine to sink an enemy ship. and go downtown for charleston's yearly carolina days parade saturday at 7 and 11 and sunday at noon, all times eastern. book the and american history tv in charleston, south carolina, next weekend on c-span2 and 3. ..
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>> not only the wonderful talent that has been able to attract to bring to douse but also the fact i was walk out and i see a room full of people who love reading and writing as much as i do, and that great community we share. and enjoy that. i've always said that the dallas museum of arts is a special place for me since i grew up here. i took my first field trip when i was a student at williams high school here to have the chance to come back and participate in a program like this is very, very special.
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it's also special that somebody like ben mezrich here tonight. i was talking to one of my writer friends today and told him what i was doing and he said he's the one who gets all the great stories that i would love to write. i think that is too. is now the author of 12 books of jesus knowing that his first six, which i don't believe. but, you know, the mantra for the book "bringing down the house" which was made into a movie with kevin spacey called one. i'm sure you know them from the book called "the accidental billionaires" which was made into a little movie called "the social network." i know we will all be talking about this book called "sex on the moon" which is fantastic in so many ways, not the least of which is it is senator in texas. so much of the places featured in the book i think will be so familiar to many of you. so please welcome to douse and welcome to the stage ben mezrich. [applause]
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>> so, am i wrong that when i heard that the time of the book was "sex on the moon" i thought that was a drink at the college kids have in south padre? >> it does have like a drink. my wife came up with a title so i was not the dirty mind behind the title. the main character did spread moon rocks on the bed and had sex with his girlfriend on the moon. i'm afraid is getting caught in spam filters. >> as i was reading it i kept thinking, the title and where did it come from, and you say you get to mow in the book where the country at the this is why the book is called that. very quick, because i'm guessing that many people have not had the chance to read it so this is one of those delicate things we don't want to give away -- >> i tend to give it away too much. >> tell us about thad and what
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he is and what he does. you said he is the most complex individual that you have written about in any of your books. take that, mark zuckerberg. [laughter] tell us about him and what mainly attracted you to tell his story? >> thad roberts basically came from a very hard background, a very fundamentalist mormon family. he was kicked out of his house when he was 18 for admitting to premarital sex. and then he decided he wanted to be an astronaut and he changed his whole life and kind of became james bond. he majored in geology and physics and astronomy and you learn how to fly airplanes and scuba dive, and spoke five languages. and then he got into nasa's johnson space center, a co-op program, so it is for college kids but it's a feeder to the astronaut training program. he was achieving his dream. he was a standard. he was a big star. he became the social leader of
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all the co-ops at the entrance and then he fell in love with a young intern, and we've all done something stupid out of love. what he did was he stole a 600-pound safe full of moon rocks from his professor's office, and as i said, spread them on the bed, had sex with his girlfriend and then try to sell them over the internet to a belgian gem dealer. >> his name was? >> axel. you couldn't have invented this guy. [laughter] this guy has never been out of antwerp is like. he collects rocks and treats them every monday night in issued center where all the guys in antwerp trade rocks. his hobby is popinjay which i had never heard of which is a sport where there's a wooden bird on a 100-foot pole and all these men stand around and shoot crossbows. this is a real sport. use this guy and he seized his hat on the internet, i've got moon rocks for sale, and he is this big believer in right and
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wrong sweetie immediately called the fbi. e-mail the fbi in tab and he became this big sting operation. thad roberts was taken down. i always give it away. but, you know, he got arrested. [laughter] >> don't cross that line. you have come off of enormous success with not only the book but also the fact that their convert to movies which helps in terms of that now provide. >> they always change the title of my movies and it's annoying. "sex on the moon" i think is the first month they have to keep. [laughter] >> they are locked in on that one. certainly usage were working on this at the time "the social network" was being filmed so there was some kind of overload. by that point, i've always thought that anyway the actors and actresses are only as good as the roles that they choose, writers are only as good as the stories that they it. so what was it, of all of the story that you could have told him what was it that attracted you to this particular one?
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>> for me the stories come to me. i don't look for them anymore. ever since "bringing down the house" i get 200 2003 -- i get r 30 e-mails a week. i was want to write about nasa. i think it's amazing but when you think of nasa you think of the '60s. you think of tom hanks in a little silver capsule. this let me get inside nasa today. so thad roberts, out of the blue, contacted me. it just gotten out of prison. he was on probation. it was weird because i've never met someone who spent almost a decade in prison before so i arranged to meet them in a crowded hotel lobby. [laughter] but he was the nicest most charismatic, good looking, like a smart guy who did something stupid. >> the nicest though you have ever met. >> he really was. i was amazed no one had written about the store. they been one article in the "l.a. times," made in texas there was more, but i had not seen anything about this and i
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couldn't believe it. so the first thing i did was i filed a freedom of information act with the fbi to get the fbi file, just thousands of pages. i even got, when fbi agents took him down, they were wearing wires, and i got the transcript of everything that was said on the wires. the first thing thad's simply walked in the restaurant is if you're wearing a wire, i'm screwed. that's on day. [laughter] so it was well. it was a year-long interviewing everybody i could. >> there's one section in the book which i think is great where there's that correspondence between thad is going by the name lorber robinson. >> a play on words. >> but you are reprinting their e-mails. so those are, in fact, [talking over each other] >> axel emmermann was very excited i was writing this book. he actually, nasa gave him as a gift for solving the moon rock paper they named an asteroid after so there isn't asteroid
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floating on some similar. but everything in the book is reprinted directly, and a lot of the dialogue is actually straight from the transcripts and everything. i do get attacked a lot. the reality is that everything in here is from the files. >> you brought that up and says something i want to visit with you about all of it. certainly that came out a lot and bringing down the house. so i wonder if you can talk about that technique that you employed as a writer, your controversial. nothing sells books like controversy. i have to say in the near times you just came out yesterday, she hated you. but i think that's part of it. and so tell me as an editor why -- >> it's been like this my entire
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career. i'm a very cinematic figure this is the kind of stuff i like to read. it's a form of new journalism i guess by get all of the information, you get thousands of pages of court documents and all the fbi stuff. then i sit down and i tel tell e story in a very visually. there will be journalists who do not like it. certainly janet is one of those. i don't have such a right or jenna. i write for me and the people who like this kind of book at the reality is it a true story and its history is any any other thing. is a biography of cleopatra, right? i mean, come on. nobody knows anything about cleopatra. and you see a biography of abraham lincoln and you see, you know, obama's biography has invented characters. it's a process, you have to take the facts and ride in a certain way. i choose right in a very cinematic way.
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so for instance, i will interview that roberts but i will interview the other kid was there, this guy gordon, i will interview axel emmermann. i know the conversation that took place 10 years ago and i know what was said. but i don't know the exact words. someone journalism -- journalist might say they talk about moon rock but to rock but to me that a very boring and weak way of telling that scene. i know they talk about moon rocks. i know they did with moon rocks i described what they did with the moon rocks. there's some journalist who love it and some journalists who don't. it will be a controversy for ever in terms of certain journalists will never like it. with "the social network" and ask it of billionaires, mark zuckerberg came out and said it's not true, it's not too. he called me to jackie collins of silicon valley. which i love to actually. [laughter] >> that's great. >> he never pointed out anything that wasn't true. he never said this isn't true and this isn't true. he just said the whole thing isn't too. then he said he didn't read the
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book. [laughter] the reality is it is a very true story. he meant to have sex on moon rocks because you want to be like having sex in the you spread them on the bed and he had sex on them. jan had a problem with that scene saying he just put them under the mattress. but that's not true. he did this on purpose. and so i used the facts but i tell it in my style, and some people like it and some people don't. >> so you're saying some journalists might not like it. what you think of your -- are you a journalist or are you -- >> i never saw myself as a journalist. i always saw myself in the entertainment business. and only stumbled into true stories. i always hated nonfiction. i grew up watching really bad television. i was a fan of pop culture and movies. and then i met these mit kids in a bar. i was hanging out in a bar in boston called crossroads.
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it's an mit dive bar. they go, i like to do that. if you can imagine an mit dive bar, a bunch of geeky guys, sorry, a bunch of geeky guys. [laughter] i am a geeky guy so, but these guys had all this money and is only 100-dollar bills. and a boston university hundred dollar bills but i don't know what's like in dallas. you guys, oil, right? boston you never see them because it's all college kids. and i couldn't figure out why so i went over to the guys house and in his longer was $250,000. and i thought he's got to be a drug dealer. but he was a drug to pick the next day we flew to vegas and it was the mit blackjack team. i ended up joining the team and i want to write that story. it was my first true story. i kind of fell into nonfiction bible electives wrote because that's what i've been writing. i was writing fiction and i ran into a true story.
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that's been the way, "bringing down the house" assembly. i get an e-mail at 2 a.m. in the morning, and he said my best friend cofounder facebook and no one has ever heard of the pics i got for a drink. it's always involving drinking. [laughter] and in walks eduardo and he's angry, furious, mark zuckerberg screwed him. and he wanted to tell his story. suddenly i was in and of the true story. so it's this weird kind of stumbled my way through nonfiction stacks there's been an experience in terms of you in "bringing down the house" you where you are part of the culture and that's what brought you. i think most, i want to stay with us for me because it's interesting i think in terms of what readers expect when they sit down with the book as to how it is marketed. i think we all have that kind of classic notion of the willing suspension of disbelief. your point with cleopatra or abraham lincoln is will they can pick it is true in "bringing down the house," there were
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sections, or scenes that were created to help move the story along. right? spent i disagree. there was definitely claims by people who were not on the mit blackjack team who said those things didn't happen. but the reality is that play pretty close to what really happened. there's a scene i think a big senate people talk about when they use the strippers to changing the chips. i was told that by two members of the mit blackjack team that were there. so maybe you can discount their story. i definitely interviewed a few strippers and you could probably discount their story, right? at the reality is you can only go so far in terms of how many interviews you do and whether that you believe the thing happened. all journalists make choices. >> absolutely. >> it is what it is. i think with "the accidental billionaires" it's much more better. there were teams of lawyers and everyone is involved in a movie
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like that. so it's pretty active. i would say social network is to very closely to at least what they believe happened. there's another two guys you could and then, right? 65 but mac olympic twins, rose. i member when i first met him to a hotel room, tyler our camera can you really can't tell, and tyler is like the look at us and you think we must be the bad guys. if this were an '80s movie we be trusted skeletons. and so i put that in the movie and that ended up, and then ralph machu call because he's the original chronic it and he said i love that line. that was cool. [laughter] anyway, there's a lot of different sources and a lot of different opinions on what happened. >> we touch on a couple of things i want to make sure we talk. one come to talk about cinematic quality of the winter i want to hold all of it because i think the audience would be interested to know this sort of jump that you have made some sitting at
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your desk by yourself pounding out these books and in the translation to the big screen. because i think that is an experience of its own. let me hold on that and say one of the things we've seen particularly in these last three books, you were drawn to a particular type of character it seems to me. young and smart, and pushing the of love of whatever is that today. is that a fair characterization? >> young, geeky, always guy so far but that's not by choice. that's just to golfing. >> what is it about that world that abusive? >> i was a geeky guy, still pretty much in. and the idea that you can go from that to rockstar or mark zuckerberg sitting alone in her room suddenly the billionaire, or mit kids living the high life in vegas. even thad roberts he's a guy who went from nothing to almost being an astronaut against getting essays of moon rocks. it's a vicarious the right
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forming. >> with thad its interest because you make the point, as result of his upbringing, and him coming to houston and not knowing anybody, he really was determined to reinvent himself. he wanted to be the guy that people recognize as the social there and the person was coming up with all of these, not exactly planks, but who could get into the space shuttle simulator and who could kind of push the bow. i guess that does help drive the narrative in terms of building up to that climax spent absolutely. this is a kid who need everyone to love. he said i needed people to love me. there's no kind of bigot need than that. he didn't have that love growing up and that's what he did. and yet, i think there is that transformation is what i like to write about. >> you were saying you met with eduardo, with the twins, not
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mark. but here it is the. thad is your main source. how was that different in writing that and then were the most were history began to seem too fantastic, were you able to check certain things that he said? because there really are some moment in his that really kind of stretch the bounds. how do you go about that and whether not what he is telling you is correct or if he is just spinning your a tale? >> with mark zuckerberg i spent you try to talk with him and he just, he knew i was talking to eduardo. and it was his right to say no. but i spent a year and he was very nice, but in the end, no, no, no. thad wanted to tell his story and that hundreds and hundreds of hours of him on tape telling it. in the beginning he wasn't telling the truth. it was a matter of want to have all the fbi files i could confront him and say that's not actually happened here according to the fbi. and according to the court transcripts and the other people who were there. then he would back off and he would wait a look and many would
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say okay, this is what really happened. so there is that aspect of it. i guess if i'm a journalist that's my main form of journalism is seeing where people are lying to me. but any in history open and honest. as i got to it i said here's the deal. especially with my book, they will be picked apart by people like janet. so you need to tell the truth. and so, he did. in the end he did. he was very open and honest with me. they are is that thing where i did star start to like him a la. as a writer that will things get tricky because if something is extremely likable, but what he did was pretty bad. my daddy was an engineer, a scientist read the book and said i hate this guy. this guy still our national treasure. mean gave their lives to get moon rocks. and he stole it for petty reasons, right? and it is that if we look at it objectively, yeah. that's horrible. but at the same time you're
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sitting with this kid and you are tearing up and he screwed up his life because he just, you know, thought it would be cool. and it's hard not to feel bad for him and then start to like him. and i'll tell you, anybody here who met thad roberts would love them. he's a very lovable guy. who just did a bad thing. and so for the office that maybe my main problem if i get very close to my subject because i want to be a part of it. i guess there is that. >> i think he does come across very sympathetic. and i think that you, you know where this is headed, but as he is coming to these, establishing himself at nasa, you see that he is talented and he's working hard and he is trying to improve and so. i think that there is a question as used in this interview with cbs, the sunday morning program, he doesn't exactly know why he did what he did. so i think that's a puzzling aspect of it but i think you do get the sense that part of his
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first night that made him, also let him to derail and kind of go down the other path. >> absolutely. this was a kid who could do anything, and then decided to do this. >> you talked about writing in a cinematic way. you refer to the a couple of times in our conversation. so tell me, when you're sitting down to write these books, are you already thinking of what may happen in the movie's? >> yes. i'm 100% that way. >> when did you start doing that? >> it started with my very first book of threshold in 1996. i've always been a cinematic writer. then with "bringing down the house" when he became a movie, suddenly i had a cabin space became my first reading i was writing books and kevin is one of the first people to read it. and now scott and michael who are like gods in this industry. so i do know when i sit down that this could be a movie.
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and i am picturing -- i'm not pitching justin timberlake running around nasa but i am picturing a very visual, not that i don't think you'd be great which he would, i'm picturing a very kind of visual setting. i'm picturing you in that way because i think there's a real synergy. books become movies more and more frequent. i feel at least i've been very fortunate in that respect, and this when we sell to the same people, same producers. it's going to be a movie. so i do think that way. but, you know, what? movies are much more fun, right? when i sit down and my cold, dark room in boston for three months of solid loneliness, you have to be picturing a big screen in your head. >> would you rather be reading a book or watching a movie speak was reading a book. i love reading books. i'm sad in a way that out like the kindle. and that it is a great device.
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books are so wonderful and i read all the time and i watch a lot of tv and i watch a lot of movies. i kind of consume all forms of entertainment, but books are great but i grew up with books and i wish they could last forever. >> the hollywood aspect is obviously been very good to you. i think you said you went to the golden globes as kevin spacey's plus one. >> it was a weird experience because normally someone like me would not be sitting anywhere near actual celebrities because i write books. and in hollywood that means you are sort of -- but my table was kevin and nicole kidman and keith urban and megan fox and brian austin green and scott johansson, and then right behind me was bruce willis and his crazy. i had to go to the bathroom and you'll get like three minute breaks that i run right into brad pitt and angelina jolie. and i'm like you guys we are
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good looking. [laughter] i turn around and get to the bathroom. but it was a wild experience. i see myself as just this guy from boston. i'm just wandering around the corner of these things. it was a wild, wild experience. >> tell us how involved you are into production and the actual creative process behind the film. >> when you get a guy like -- >> in letters i've talked with over the years, or writers that i know who have had books made into films, if there's one school of thought that it's mine, mine alone and i'm going to protect it, john grisham i think is famous for saying once it goes, i could care less, it's not mine anymore. tell us about your created involved and how you were created will be -- >> for me i mostly involved when the screenplay is written. erin came out to boston and we
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sat in a hotel room. i wasn't finished with the book it. that was a strange situation. i was handing in chapters if he was right the screenplay. that was a cool thing. once their onset, the director is gone. he runs the sick. david was god, god, god. you sort of, the said really runs and you are there. might involvement is, i'm there and if they have any questions that you have no control. once you kind of stuff about. they ask you things and you get input. started with a story like this, i will be involved in terms of that. but it is kind of like what john grisham says anyway, once you sell it it is theirs. it's your book, it's their movie. it's hard to say that, but at the same time, i've been very lucky. i love 21. i thought 21 was a great fun movie. and i love "the social network." so far it's been great. you never know what's going to happen. >> would you ever just write a
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screenplay? >> i've done a couple screenplays. i didn't have to one of my earlier books, ugly americans, which hasn't gotten made sad in a. it's a different format. and for me the books are my main bread-and-butter but i think sooner or later. but for me they have to want me to. i spent a long time as a struggling writer so now i don't want to be a struggling screenwriter and go through that again. the truth is they don't necessarily want you to adapt your work. for whatever reason. it's not normally the first thing they want you to go to. we will see. >> who should play try to? >> i get asked that a lot. that again will be up to the director and producers, but it's got to be a good looking guy who can be both athletic and like a mountain climbing guy, and a geek. so it's kind of challenging in that you can't -- i've heard names like siebel loving timberlake and rob aronson would be cool if he balks up a bit. there's definite a lot of young guys who can pull it off.
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it's a real, i think a real juicy role for a guy spent let's talk about it other aspect of the book business can which i think is also interesting to folks is your now on a whirlwind kind of promotional tour, ibm flights and multiple interviews a day. how does that square again with the writer that we are think of is going to be cordoned off from the rest of the world as he is circe try to get that last chapter, now to be dropped in the world of media push. >> it's a culture shock because you spend half your your locker room and the other half you are talking to people. i love the. i like the entertainment but it's weird seven having schedules because normally you don't care what time it is and you just write and you get deep into whatever the project's. you have a lot of control over your life and we are on tour you have no control. but it's also wonderful. i will say my 2-cent changed dramatically. i remember my first book tour, my first up is something called
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on the radio which is a real station that only yes in the callahan tunnel in boston. [laughter] it is literally an am station in 100 yards of total and it was a traffic station that some got the idea of putting authors on. so first of all no one wants to be because they're trying to get the traffic report. [laughter] and my second stop in massachusetts, a public assess station. somewhere in a book i mention in the future there may not be the worst because we'll be able to genetically choose our children. it was a little sentence in the book i never thought of it and i shop at the public station and its two chairs like this and in which it is a dwarf. [laughter] and it was my second publicity stop of my life, and i sit down and i start to think, wait a minute, this isn't good. [laughter] and it was a debate. and i was like i didn't say
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there shouldn't be, i said there may not be because dash and he said you mean people won't want to choose dwarf? but then there was no budget and so after the interview ended we go outside and the dwarf had to give me a ride home. [laughter] so, i don't know. it was a strange day. the back your next book, the lead character was, in fact, a dwarf? >> i'm a big fan. i watch game of thrones. he's awesome specs spent speaking of, you said you don't have your next one lined up her right now. obviously, you will enjoy this and continue with the media push. how would you begin to decide? you say you're getting all of these e-mails want you to tell the stories. but what would you be looking for for the next project? >> i look through all of these
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ideas are they coming in 99% of them are really bad. every person who commits a crime now is sending e-mails. you know, i need that sort of young kid, really smart who is not a bad person is kind of in that grey area between right and wrong. this is the first heist i've written, the first person to commit a crime. fasb all those albums that light, the trail and sex and all those kind of things that janet doesn't like. and then there has to be, you know, some level of fun for me. so it has to be in a place where i want to go. you have to spend six months to a year doing it. so for me going to vegas, awesome. but i wouldn't go somewhere that would be horrible. so yeah, those are kind of the things i look for suspect the next project you'll be looking for sort of that type of character, perhaps that type of story? >> i was thinking would be cool if prince harry -- i don't want to write william, right? harry has a story, right?
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you know he has a story. that's what i'm looking for. if anyone knows him. >> strike up a conversation spinning i don't know what is next. >> what are you reading? what are you doing when you're not working on the books, and as you say just all the time that you're spending with the research, what are you reading and what writers inspired? >> right now the game of thrones is just amazing. >> you mean that because of the hbo -- >> i had started one before and i watched it and i was like this is great. so now i'm reading them all. those books are the reason can. >> is great because caring those books around is serious business. those are great. i read a lot of what comes out because i think sebastian younger is a phenomenal writer he is hard-core. back i will go to afghanistan and in bed himself while i'm embedded in vegas. he's in afghanistan. good for him.
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who else? i read it all. everything i can get my hands on. i loved the hunger games trilogy which is on. it was really good. >> do you see yourself, are you more accountable now with screenwriters as opposed to other authors? what is your community? >> i have a lot of writing france, but overall i don't know that many screenwriters because i don't live in l.a. i don't have a lot of close friends who are writers but i have a couple, matthew pearl is a good friend of mine in austin. joe fender has a book out. a wonderful book on he is great. a few other local writers. i don't, you know, we don't sit around and turtlenecks and drink coffee. it's not that scene. [laughter] >> would've turned to come upon the time, as we say then we'll be doing a book signing after this and there are other events
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obviously with late nights at the da. i would ask you a couple more questions to rout out and we would like the audience, if you have a question to please come on down to one of the standing mics up at the front and we will take you sort of in order for 15 minutes or so. and then wrap up the evening at that point. so if you have some questions, you might begin to think of those. but let's continue a little bit more and then turn it over to the audience. how would you describe how your writing has changed quick you made a joke which about was funny that nobody had read your first six books. what you told me she graduated from harvard. you knew you want to write books. not magazine articles, not screenplays, not poems, books. so you like herself we. how do you feel like it matured as a buyer and that you're better as writer than you were now? >> i locked myself in a room and i wrote nine novels and they were deep, dark stories that take place in bars in the city.
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-- in new york city. none of them work published. i was rejected by everyone in new york. and then i read john grisham and a red and i wrote a throughout its life for six books were thrillers. they were pretty trashy. they were fun, medical thrillers, evil scientists. one of them was a tv movie called fatal error. if you and you saw it. i hope you didn't, i apologize. spent it was about the underwear model. he plays the surgeon initiative. he is great. but there's a scene where, i was watching with my dad who's a doctor now, he leans over the patient's chest and he goes we've got a sterile hematoma. and my dad turned to me and he says, you know that's in the head, right? [laughter] i think i've gotten a lot better than that. but, you know, i think my style is improving but i feel strongly that "sex on the moon" is my
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best but i think "bringing down the house" 40 was a transitional moment in my life because i realized i could write a true story it and that book i wrote in six weeks in vegas. literally stayed in a different hotel suite each night. publishers hate it when you say you are that quickly. the reality was it was crazy, like i was living in writing it. it was not. that became this imaging technique why just go inside and i live the story. but i will say anybody out there who wants to be a writer, you know, those days of rejection are kind of the most noble and romantic time. you should look forward to the rejection. i, being a geeky guy, had much rejection in my life up to that point. with women. [laughter] but then it became books. i would put them on the wall and each one would become like this thing robert have to beat that rejection. and i will say when i got into public, finally selling my books, every person i work with
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i had rejection letter from. which was kind of cool. you do to me meeting and they say you love -- we love your stuff and i would say what about this? [laughter] you didn't love this, right? so, you know, you learn from the rejection. there's this huge wall and publishing that's impossible to get over. it's a tough business, but it's that climb over the wall i think that makes you better. and i feel like now, you know, i'm a very different writer than it was in the beginning. >> you say that you think this is your best work, your best ever. what is it about? >> most of the geek guys i wrote about before were unable to get laid. this is the first character -- [laughter] in which falling in love became his problem. and it was his downfall. it's new for me to write a romance, the lovers he wrote from prison are in the book.
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the access i had to him, you know, even when a with mit kids, this was different. this was a kid really laying it out and saying this is my life and i screwed up. and so there's more in it than anything i've written about before. during fighting this book i had a kick in which a lot of you probably know, changes your life in a dramatic way. and i think that is infused in it to me anyways because you are not sleeping. but you're dealing with, human, massive sort of, your understand things differently i think. i think i try to get inside this kids head more and more. >> i can't do it any better than that. this is great. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> the book obviously is a "sex on the moon." we would've questions for about 15 minutes and will be a book signing immediately afterward. so please come if you have questions just please come down. we have standing microphones at the front and we'll call on you. fire away.
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>> you were asked what books you read now. countries do know what books you like and read as you're growing up spent my parents had what was little we had to read two books a week before we were allowed to watch tv. which seems very draconian now that i have a kid. [laughter] i was obsessed with television. so for me i became a speed reader. but anything counter to any kind of book so i really got into science fiction. then i graduated for hemingway, and i loved the sun also rises and i kept rereading and rereading it. and from there, i go through periods of just different types of books. i have little to read every john or. i was reading candace bushnell nonstop for one year. i don't know why. it was great but it was awesome. so i shift from thing to thing. i don't limit myself. so yeah, i think growing up it was mostly science fiction.
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>> since "the accidental billionaires," you didn't interview mark zuckerberg, you just interview the people that were mad at them. do you take speed is it's clear a lot of that is from edward i think the movie is a little bit more market i also did have sean parker who is on the other side. and also that a lot of people who knew mark extend well from high school friends and college friends, people who work at facebook or even though they sent along in a triple at facebook not to speak to me, that make people want to talk to me. so there were a lot of sources. it would've been great if mark had talked to be. it would have been wonderful no question. i don't think there's anyway you can look at the mobius it's not true. i think the people who were there, other than markup say that's what happened. so, you know, yes, eduardo definitely had an ax to grind.
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the winklevoss have an ax to grind. sean parker was a pretty good source and a wonderful person. crazy. i mean, i think timberlake caught him perfect. i think sean is looking more and more like justin timberlake now. [laughter] that's a positive thing. but yeah, you do have to take that into account. i feel like you can to which scenes are from edwards pointed and which ones are not but it's one of the issues. >> other than "sex on the moon," it may be but which other books, which when was your favorite to right? >> ugly americans is a book that not many people read the. >> are you still shopping? >> ugly americans as well, a true story about a kid from new jersey who played football, had never been out of jersey. gets a phone call. he's a princeton university college football player. gets a call from an alum who invites into japan a guy packs a
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duffel bag, flies to japan and ends up working for a guy who was a 26 year-old trader who bankrupted entire biggest bank in england by banning of assets on the japanese stock market. he goes to jail and his main character of my book becomes this hotshot hedge fund capital in asia. falls in love with a daughter of a japanese gangster. he has to leave japan very quickly. it all takes place in japan in the sordid sex underground in japan. it's kind of a story about living large in asia. so i thought that was a fun, fun book. it sold external on wall street. every wall street i had a copy of it. but outside of wall street they didn't catch. we worked on movie for a while. we sold it to numerous studio. eventually hopefully it will get me. "bringing down the house" is i think for me if you want to know what i write, it's what i write.
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but yeah, between those three really. >> i have two questions. one is, thanks for coming by the way. >> this is fun. >> i'm curious of your latest book, what was the subjects incentives for wanting to talk and have his story written? and i'm also curious about this label of nonfiction. have you thought about putting a stop out under fiction and devoting the controversy? >> first of all it's the publishers decision. publishers look at it. their lawyers look at it. editors look at and they say this is true. so that is on the one hand the baton and i know, i feel strongly. is clearly nonfiction. i would say you go through chapter by chapter in any one of my books and every scene can be documented both in court documents and interviews. so yes, it's written dialectically in a way that reads like a thriller, but there's no way to call it fiction because everything in
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that scene happened. obviously, it's always going to be a controversy. there will always be journalists who are searching out james frey, right? that's the whole thing. but in the opening of my book i said exactly what i'm going to do. there's no scandal. that upsets journalists because they want scandal so badly. so they always come and say you re-create a dialogue. it says on page one am going to re-create a dialogue. it's not made-up dialogue. it's re-tweeted from the people who were there. so no, i don't have a problem. they expect me to shut away or run away from oprah. i'm happy to talk about it because i think it's a very valid form of nonfiction that goes back to hunter s. thompson, beyond that could display a writer she said no. the designation is really up to the publishers. i think it's very clearly nonfiction. and the second question was about thad, why did he come to be. that's a great question.
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he saw himself as a movie character. when he did the crime, the james bond theme song was going through his head. [laughter] and so he wants to be famous, or infamous. which is tricky. obviously. but at the same time he also feels like he has been an enormous amount of his life in prison. seven and a half years is like, murderers get seven and half years. he had the moon rocks for a week. he used them, no question about that, but he felt like he had served so much time that telling his story was the right thing to do. not that he is proud he did it, but at the same time he feels like he did this crazy thing and there's no reason why he shouldn't tell people. so does he feel bad? yes. is he ashamed of himself? i don't know. i don't think so. people company because they want to get things. i think that's part of it. but also they look at it like the mit kids who are like we had the sports cricket nobody knew
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about. they want people to know about it. so yeah, there is that. >> i felt one of your best books was -- i was hoping you could talk about that expect it takes place in dubai, true story about one -- aikido at one foot from the tough streets of brooklyn. he worked at the merc exchange in new york where they traded oil. a very physical exchange where you're fighting for inches on the trading floor. and then he went to dubai and set up to by merck, basically. he set up the oil trading world in dubai at the time. it's a crazy story that takes place all over the world. very short trip for me there. in and out. you guys like the hot weather. i don't know. for me it's a little week. it is a wild story. the whole world of oil which i
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knew nothing about, and i heard about that story. this kid i knew and he invited me when "bringing down the house" came out to ring the bell. i look out on this incredible sea of tough guys from brooklyn pushing and shoving and throwing tickets at each other. there was one clerk he was a small guy, and so we hired a bunch of people behind him whose entire job is just to hold him into the trading floor. and i was like this is so cool. that's what made me write that. we're also working on the movie as well. so we'll see if that gets going. >> just wanted to actually -- [inaudible] based on the conversations about re-creating dialogue. this is tonight's program. measures border with thousands of court records, at the transcripts and nasa documents, it is indeed most of the participants in the crime to reconstruct this oceans 11 style
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highest that madcap sort of genius, love and lucy. already the novel has been snatched up by hollywood to create a film. >> that happens. no, you know what? yeah, people use the word novel interchangeably nowadays. i hope that's not my fault. you know, it will always be a controversy i think in my career, but i think most people are coming around to this form of new nonfiction. what's funny, when i tour in england and europe, they have no problem with it. does not even a discussion. why are american should was so upset with your writing? and i don't know what to tell them. it seems to be more controversial at "the new york times" than it is anywhere else. >> i wanted to ask you at the next big project when you're looking for the story, do you prefer to write about it, do a
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project, write about a story that is unfolding like "bringing down the house"? >> that would be ideal. i mean, i love the idea of getting events right when they're happening. but it's hard because at that point you don't know where it's going to end. you don't want to spend years of your life chasing something and it doesn't happen. but that would be the ideal story where you're in the thick of it as it is happening. both this and "the accidental billionaires" happened a number of years ago. that was different. and you can try to retrieve it yourself, but yeah. i would love it if it were actually happening. but you have to know the ending. that's what it gets hard. >> any other questions? >> can you share with us, i hope i pronounced this right, what thad is doing now? >> he got out of prison and he went back communities of you will talk -- university of utah to get his ph.d. i think he recently left utah and he wants to go to space. that's his dream. not at nasa, but he says made in
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the private sector one day. he's a smart guy. it's a question of if he can overcome his own demons i thing. he's got issues. he's very spontaneous. maybe he needs to control himself. but, you know, i hope the best for him. he served his time. he paid his dues. and if he's smart, you know, he will study. he is brilliant and you'll get his ph.d and the one that we. he's a good kid who did a bad thing. spent how has he responded to the book speak what he liked most of the. he didn't like all that. he didn't like axel emmermann getting rewarded for taking down. he did like some of the ways he was described as being a little delusional and the fantasy aspects of it. but he also said it was hard to see yourself in someone else's eyes. so he liked a lot of the. i think he felt i captured commanding and nasa and all that stuff at the beginning very well.
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so overall he liked it, but there were things he didn't like. spent any other questions? well, yes, sir, please. >> curious, you said -- [inaudible] we just shut down the space shuttle. what did you find out -- >> i think it's all about mars. i think that's the next that. obviously when you think about it, i'm going to spend billions and billions of dollars to tragedies, that's creepy but at the same time we spend billions of dollars doing all sorts of things. why not do something that is incredible? when you think back to the moon landing, there was no point to that. [laughter] but it was incredible, reich was it changed our lives. it changed our world. it was wonderful. i feel like we should do that again. i would love to see all this money put into getting to mars. that would be my dream. i think nasa, it's had the space shuttle ending.
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it's sad to see these things that advance the human species just by existing, i feel. so i feel like the race to mars would advance us in ways that we can't tell you. so that's my very wrote nasa speech. but i hope, i hope we find a mission to mars spirit what is nasa's response? >> they weren't happy i was writing this book. they were embarrassed that this was a guy from the inside who stole a six or bounce it right off of their campus. they were not through. they didn't want me to make it into a hero. all these sorts of things. but i feel like they haven't responded yet. so i feel like when people there read the book they would love it. because i think it may nasa make -- it makes nasa look real cool. i thought facebook would like "the social network" that eventually they did. they did, ran towards the end. it's not a hit job on nasa, that's for sure. >> let's do one last question and then we'll call it an
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evening. >> what happened to his girlfriend? >> thad did the crime with a girlfriend and another girl. he took the fall for them. he said it was and how him and he forced them to do it. him and us of the guy were involved, the in a cup what to do. the girls did not go to jill. then she never spoke to him again. it was sad. you know, they have known each other three weeks. it was quick love. [laughter] when she was in the courtroom, i think the judge or the prosecutor asked her, you knew this kid for three weeks, why would you do this? she said i'm still trying to figure it out. [laughter] it was one of those things. they have moved on with their life. they were not happy i wrote this book. i talk to them and character. she asked me to change her name. she wanted nothing to do with it. i think she's in texas, but she didn't want to be involved. >> thank you so much. spent thank you for being here.
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[applause] >> for more on author ben mezrich and his work, visit in 19. spent well, it was on july 18 of this year that borders announce that it would be liquidating the rest of its stores. joining us by phone now from new york is sarah weinman, news editor of polishers marketplace. what happened in the weeks leading up to july 18? it seemed that borders was going to be resurrected or saved? >> it did seem as if borders was going to be saved. what happened is that najafi companies which was a private company based out of i believe arizona which owns direct brands, which had also owned what used to be known as book-of-the-month club, they had put in a bid for approximately
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$215 million in assets from elsewhere this into a $29 in liabilities. everything was good right up until the beginning of this week when all of a sudden everything started to fall apart. creditors for borders had objected. they thought that najafi was entirely forthcoming in the sense that they were not actually sure that they would keep borders going as a going concern. so they were worried about this. and najafi couldn't exactly come out and say one way or the other. so depending on which vantage point you're looking at, either that najafi pulled out or the bid was canceled and ultimately borders elected to go with a backup plan, which was to go with the liquidators. in doing so, they avoided having to pay what's known as a break at the because let's say if another bidder had come and, that it would have had to pay
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about $6.4 million. this way because the liquidators are coming in, there was no breakup fee. and it just sort of moved through the court system. and effect liquidation started today, which is friday. and was approved at 3 p.m. yesterday in bankruptcy court. >> so when you say liquidation started, sarah weinman, what does that mean? >> it means that as of today, going out of business sales are happening in as many as 399 stores. there is a caveat. in court yesterday, and i was there taking notes and writing about it, a latebreaking development took place where books a million which is the third largest chain in the country, they put in an offer for 30 stores, 22 superstars and eight smaller stores, and the details were still being worked out as of today. but the judge uprooted provisionally. it's just that creditors had some concerns and some other parties as well.
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and to the best of my knowledge, they are still working that out, which means that a good 369 stores are beginning to liquidation proceedings. i doubt it means that i believe 40% off sales, customers who have borders awards plus cards can use them, and other discount up until about august 5. the cards are valid until the liquidation sales are finished. it means that landlords will be able to market those real estate properties to others once all these stores close at the end of september. they are trying to everything sold off as corporate as positive they're trying to sell furniture. all the contracts that they had with very other companies, those are coming to an end so it's a. >> and using the stores we close at the end of september. how many, talk to us a little bit about the direct impact on
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how many employees? >> there are about 10,700 employees who are going to lose their jobs at this point. if the books a million thing comes through, that may lead to the retention between 101,500 jobs. but that is still a small amount of the overall number. of those 10,700 employees, about that is approximately 4000 of them are full-time employees. those are those working on the ground in the stores as well as those in borders michigan headquarters. that's a tremendous loss to the overall economic climate. it's a lot good hard-working people who are now going to be thrown into an economic climate that is hardly favorable at this point. it's very interesting to see there's been a grassroots campaign online by various people in the publishing community to try to connect orders employees who are about
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to lose their job with other potential publishing and bookish type jobs that are available. but it's also doing is sort of shining a light on what's going on with independent bookselling. now, of course independent bookstores were very greatly impacted by the rise of big box superstores like borders and barnes & noble through the early 90s and 2000s. so it will be very interesting to see what they will be able to do, not just as borders retracts and closes up shop, as barnes and nobles transitions into more of a digital company. and, of course, what's happened with respect to the explosion of e-book growth. >> sarah weinman, with the fiscal health of barnes and noble? >> barnes & noble is in an interesting spot right now. they have had record sales, but because they've spent so much
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